by Kevin C. McCormick
Maryland’s Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Act goes into effect October 1, meaning Maryland employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who experience a disability because of a pregnancy.
Basically, the new law requires employers to treat pregnancies in much the same way disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are handled. Accommodations are required unless they would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Under the law, if an employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer “shall explore” with her all possible means of providing the accommodation, including (1) changing her job duties; (2) changing her work hours; (3) relocating her work area; (4) providing mechanical or electrical aids; (5) transferring her to a less strenuous or less hazardous position; or (6) providing leave.
If a pregnant employee requests a transfer to a less strenuous or less hazardous position as a reasonable accommodation, the employer must transfer her for a period of time, up to the duration of her pregnancy, if:
- The employer has a policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement requiring or authorizing the transfer of a temporarily disabled employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous position or the employee’s healthcare provider advises the transfer.
- The employer can provide the reasonable accommodation by transferring the employee without creating an additional job it wouldn’t otherwise have created, discharging another employee, transferring another employee with more seniority, or promoting an employee who isn’t qualified to perform the job.
An employer may require a pregnant employee to submit certification from her healthcare provider explaining the medical advisability of a reasonable accommodation if the employer requires such certification for other temporary disabilities. The certification form must include the date the reasonable accommodation became medically advisable, the probable duration of the accommodation, and an explanation of the medical advisability of the accommodation.
Covered Maryland employers must post in a conspicuous location and include in their employee handbooks information about employees’ rights to reasonable accommodations and leave for disabilities caused or exacerbated by pregnancy.
For more information, see the May and June 2013 issues of Maryland Employment Law Letter.
Kevin C. McCormick is editor of Maryland Employment Law Letter and chair of the labor and employment section of the Baltimore law firm of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP. He can be reached at email@example.com.